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Industry

Lords event combats threat to print industry

Drawing a Baroness, a huge swathe of the print industry’s great and good, and held at the House of Lords, the Print Futures Awards has struck a much needed blow for increased emphasis on youth recruitment and support.

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The 24 assembled winners of the Print Futures Awards at the House of Lords, along with organisers and supporters of the initiative

Centrally run and funded by The Printing Charity, which counts the Queen among its patrons and has run since 1827, its chief executive Stephen Gilbert made an impassioned plea about the need to back the initiative and revealed some key news: “Sometimes you need to look back. But we are a forward-looking, enthusiastic and focussed organisation. Print is in our blood, it’s what we have always been. And I have been blown away by the energy, enthusiasm, and optimism of these young people.”

Gilbert continued: “The Printing Charity has always supported people in printing, publishing, graphic arts and allied trades and our new Supplemental Royal Charter ensures we have the flexibility to respond to changes as they happen in the industry. It also gives our Trustees the power to assist young people, who intend working in the industry, by contributing towards the cost of their education.”

The Print Futures Awards were launched in 2003 to support young people between the ages of 16 to 30 interested in entering the printing, publishing, or graphics arts sectors by helping them with the costs of training. The 2014 programme considered some 60 entries for awards of £1,500, with each young person needing to submit a four to six page personal statement, with the shortlisted candidates undergoing an interview, before a final list of 24 awards were made.

The presentation of the awards was hosted by Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde to a packed crowd, who looked on as the beaming and eager finalists received their cheques and recognition of their aspirations.

Critical situation

Speaking to Print Monthly after the event’s conclusion, Gilbert said: “If you look at the demographics, and I will use myself as an example, there are a lot of people of my generation who in the industry who will either retire or perhaps even die.
 
“The industry itself is growing in parts and doing reasonably well. But that will not continue and it will not have a future unless there is a generation to replace us. Also the skill set is changing and we have an industry that is changing. My grandfather was in print and it was hot metal, it was dirty, it was heavy machinery. Today it is all heavy computers, IT, and we perhaps don’t talk about the digital industry but the creative industry.

“We need people with those skills and we need the next generation come on into the industry to give it that sustainable future, there is a market for print.”

If you look at the demographics, and I will use myself as an example, there are a lot of people of my generation who in the industry who will either retire or perhaps even die.
  
The industry itself is growing in parts and doing reasonably well. But that will not continue and it will not have a future unless there is a generation to replace us

Jon Wright, The Printing Charity’s Chairman, presented the Print Futures Awards to the 24 winners and praised Terry Ulrick, the Print Futures Awards Secretary who, he said, set the scheme up originally with BPIF and has made the Awards happen for the past twelve years.

The scheme counts some heavy hitting organisations among its sponsors, which includes the BPIF, The John Crosfield Foundation, the St Bride Foundation, and Unite the Union.

Gilbert explained the potential of this combined effort: “We are building this cohort of like-minded organisations, who believe print has a future, who believe we need young people in our industry, and we need to help them. Because in the twelve years we have been running the scheme things have changed. We have seen student loans come in, we have seen fees increase, and in some cases we have seen firms cutting back on the training they provide in house because they haven’t got the cash flow to fund it.

Stephen Gilbert, chief executive of The Print Charity, is a passionate advocate of youth recruitment into the print, publishing, graphic arts, and allied trades

“We believe this is very necessary for the future of the industry. And there young people I have seen every year for twelve years who have the drive, the enthusiasm, the optimism, and faith in our industry and it’s great to be able to facilitate that.”

An inspirational future

Listening to just a few of the inspirational stories of the Print Futures Awards winners as the hustle and bustle of the Thames went on outside the Cholmondeley Room, it is clear that the initiative is set on kick-starting a renaissance in youth recruitment.

Of all the worth awardees, a snapshot of three showcase the potential long-term impact the Print Futures Awards could have on the print industry.

Cassandra Brzoza is already making waves in the design community and will use her Award to fund her Shillington College graphic design course to further her passion for bringing design to physical life in print, and photography.

Callum Copley is currently studying for a BA in Graphic and Media Design at the London College of Communication. He has already set up Registration, a design festival and his award will help pay for printing materials for his degree show.

Mirabel Fawcett is studying for a Diploma in Design for Visual Communication at the London College of Communication and her award will fund her final project exploring print and digital media in editorial design.

“Our confidence is growing year on year, and it is these young people’s experiences which showcase what the charity is all about,” said Baroness Dean, summing up the event.

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